South Sudan Vice President Riek congratulates diaspora on secession vote

Category: Diaspora
Published on Monday, 13 June 2011 06:14
Written by Gabrial Pager Ajang, The New Sudan Vision (NSV),
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viceriek(Omaha, Nebraska NSV)- On Saturday over 1000 Southern Sudanese and friends converged at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa, to welcome the Vice President of the Government of South Sudan, H.E Dr. Riek Machar Teny.

With less than a month before it declares independence, the current semi-autonomous Government of South Sudan is doing everything in terms of laying the groundwork for the would-be young republic. It is in that light that the Vice President came to United States to attend the United Nations Security Council's session  on Sudan and the HIV-AIDS summit  in New York, which is being organized for heads of state and government.

“The United Nations Security Council will endorse the Republic of South Sudan," Dr. Riek said, granting us blessing to join the international body or community of nations. "On July 13th and  14th, 2011, the Republic of South Sudan will be made the newest member of the United Nations," he added.   Dr. Riek  emphasized that the Republic of South Sudan will be the only nation in the World to complete fully membership with the United States four days after its independence.

The Vice President was accompanied to Omaha by delegates from South Sudan, along with the Head of the Government of Southern Sudan to United States and the ambassador to the UN, Mr. Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth. During introductory remarks,which were occasionally  interrupted by thunderous applause, Mr. Ezekiel cast Dr. Riek as "the champion of democracy and self-determination of the Southern Sudanese people." Mr. Ezekiel urged fellow Southern Sudanese to unite in order to combat insecurity in Southern Sudan.  “We must unite as one  Southern Sudanese people, unity is important," Ezekiel said.

The day was also momentous for the diaspora leadership who added their voice to be heard by the vice president. The Chairperson of the SPLM Chapter in the State of Nebraska, Dual Rut called on the Government of Southern Sudan to open better ways of  communicating with Southern Sudanese in diaspora. Mr. Rut said Sudanese in the United States time and again go to jail for silly violations of law. For Mr. Dual, the new Republic of South Sudan must put in place programs and ways for returning disproportionate numbers of Southern Sudan youth in the Juvenile system in the United States, specifically in Nebraska. He suggested that the Government of Southern Sudan should establish better cooperation with the diaspora and layout plan for taking skilled professionals to South Sudan. “The Government of Southern Sudan is faced with shortage of skilled professionals," Mr. Dual concluded.

The chairperson of HIV-AIDS in the Government of Southern Sudan, Dr. Esterina Nyilok seized the opportunity and reminded Southern Sudanese that since 1820 when Sudan was ruled by the Ottoman Empire, we have lost significant number of people to war or disease. From independence in 1956 to now we have lost 5million people to war, and the south will not afford to lose another person to HIV-AIDS during post independence period, she said.

Dr. Riek then began by sharing his congratulatory message with the Southern Sudanese in the diaspora for voting overwhelmingly for secession. “The ministers of southern Sudan were first concerned about the people living in diaspora about how they would cast their votes. He said that "some in the ministry were not sure whether you will vote for unity or not even vote." "Now you have proved those people wrong."  He assured the audience of readiness to celebrate the independence of the Republic of South Sudan on July 9th, 2011.  “We have invited the whole World,” said Dr. Riek.

"The flag of Khartoum will be lowered and the flag of the new Republic will be raised in South Sudan and in New York, in front of the United Nations Building," he said.   

Meanwhile, the Government of Southern Sudan is committed to work  with the government in Khartoum to implement the Abyei protocol. “The government of the Southern has asked the Khartoum to withdraw its troops from Abyei and UN peace keeping force would be placed to patrol the area” said Dr. Riek.  We are committed to diplomacy, and we [wil] not return people of southern Sudan to war. We have seen massacre of our people in Fangak, this time we cannot simply afford to lose another person," he added.

The Vice President said he would be remiss if he didn't mention that there is conflict in Sudan. He said in  the months of May and June,  there were fightings in Warrap, Southern Kordofan, Upper Nile and blue Nile, and  to him the fighting in those states must be peacefully addressed.

He said that could be done by implementing incomplete popular consultation in Blue Nile and Nubia Mountain. Citizens in these states must be given an opportunity to choose their destiny, he said.  Dr. Riek said the Abyei protocol is clear, stressing “the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that was signed will speak for them."  He assured those gathered that the CPA has illustrated well that the Abyei belongs to the nine NGok Dinka chiefdoms, they are only people that will be allowed to vote during Abyei referendum.

The security arrangement for the contested areas is being crafted by the Government of Southern Sudan. Dr. Riek said that the president of the Government of Southern Sudan has chosen diplomacy over war.

On the constitutional front, Dr. Riek said the government of southern Sudan and council of ministers are writing constitution of the republic of South Sudan. He suggested people can send in their ideas to be incorporated in the constitution after which all the bad ideas will be removed. The constitution is sensitive, controversial and it is being intensely debated, he added.

Dr. Riek spoke of trauma in Southern Sudan , saying that even among the senior leadership there are some who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. He suggested all senior officials in the Government of Southern Sudan should seek counseling. He stressed that all of them have been in war for a long time, and many of them are wild  and they need rehabilitation and reintegration into normal life.

The Republic of South Sudan will be committed to building institutions that will seek to address post-war traumatic stress disorder in South Sudan, he said.


*Gabrial Pager Ajang , MPA student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, contributed this reporting.